Friday, June 1, 2012

Miles and minutes

Sometimes I get the sense that we are overly obsessed with measurement. The scientific need to analyze. How far, how fast, what size, what degree, what ratio. And please, before I waste another nano-second in contemplation, I very much appreciate the opportunity to use data as a tool. I simply refuse to become a slave to it. Consider: How much is too much fun? How big is your love? How far is eternity? Where, exactly, are we? What time is it, really? 

We spend enormous amounts of our precious time (careful), as athletes, in training towards the improvement of  elements of our sport. We break it down to details that will, hopefully augment the whole. We ride hard, run fast, add resistance, increase cadence and endure the requisite suffering necessary to brig about muscular adaption. Of course we measure all of this with a zeal that borders fervor. Indeed it becomes our religion (easy fella). Our hard wiring also contributes some voltage in the form of comparisons and competition. We like to measure how we match up with so-and-so, and we are, by nature, always cognizant of the survival of the fittest theory. I conducted a telephone interview yesterday with a Pro cyclist from our tiny island hamlet, and held my breath as he paused in thought while considering how most diplomatically to answer my question in regard to his functional threshold power. How close was it to mine, the subconscious racer in my mind wondered, ego already heading towards the podium. 

This is all good. We could be talking about handgun control, same-sex marriage or inflation, instead we share notes on a scratchpad, intrepidly seeking positive change on the path to, well, wherever we envision ourselves going. Even in rock n roll it is a long way to the top. We might as well enjoy the ride. Embrace the journey. Support each other (instead of shooting, condemning, judging and/or stealing from each other). So we measure. Try to make some sense of it. Another day, another dime says the data paradigm. 

Where is all this heading? That is part of the mystery, 'cause we really never know. What happens when your best isn't good enough? Will you be happy only when victory is proclaimed? Does your quest for more upset the applecart of your franchised BalanceMart? Is Pythagoras the ala mode on your apple Pi? Are you disappointed when your race efforts do not meet your projections? Is the point of all this a decimal? 

Try this my dear friends, if like many of us, if you are in the midst of a multi-sport, cross-training, time crunching balancing act, pick one workout next week and spin, ride, run or row by feel. Let yourself go. Breathe and relax into the movement and sync to the motion. Run childlike simply because if feels good and is fun. Hear the sounds that accompany you, try some nasal multi-tasking (the olfactory as well as the inhaling), feel each foot strike search for proprioceptic security, balance and grace. Dial it up. Work your lungs. Level it off just short of implosion. Set the cruise control for stunning. Feel the salt flow on your brow and your quads beg for mercy. 

Just once. See what happens. You might scare yourself a little with the level (watch out) of your personal power (in the abstract). 

I have a theory about all this that can be summarized in one, somewhat pithy, adage:

Train with head,
Race with heart.

Meaning, of course, train using the best equipment, the best tools, with the best partners that your can afford and find. If metrics increase your motivation, great. If hey help you understand the methodology or testing protocols, terrific, if they keep you coming back with the goal of continual improvement, fabulous.

But when you toe the line on race day, let it go and let it flow. The work (measuring and managing) has been done, now it's time to turn that knowledge to wisdom in the manifestation of the most powerful energy system known to man: The synergy of brain and brawn. Science and art. The real and the feel. 

Go get 'em (OK, go ahead and use your chronometer or HRM)

With all due respect to Calvin and Hobbes.

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